Bachelor of Apparel and Fashion Design: Degree Overview

Oct 26, 2019

Postsecondary institutions that feature bachelor's programs in fashion design typically offer Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, but some grant Bachelor of Arts degrees. Learn about courses in the program, employment outlook and options, salary, and continuing education information.

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Essential Information

Students in an apparel and fashion design bachelor's program explore the latest fashion trends, create designs, construct items of clothing, and participate in student fashion shows. In addition to a high school diploma or the equivalent, some schools require or encourage applicants to submit a portfolio to assist in placement decisions, enhance applications for competitive programs with limited enrollment, or be considered for scholarships. Practical training experience or an internship with professional apparel and fashion designers is an important component of these degree programs.

Bachelor of Apparel and Fashion Design

Through coursework and studio practice, students learn skills that prepare them for careers in fashion design. A few programs allow students to concentrate on one aspect of fashion design, such as knitwear, children's clothing or intimate apparel. Others incorporate merchandising, marketing and business knowledge into their curricula. Students assemble portfolios that showcase their design collections; this is a necessary tool for marketing one's talents to possible employers in this competitive industry. Typical course topics include:

  • Drawing
  • Fashion history
  • Garment and costume construction
  • Computer applications
  • Patternmaking, sewing and textiles
  • Shoe design

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fashion designer job opportunities were projected to grow 1%, during the 2018 to 2028 decade ( In May 2018, the BLS reported that fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $72,720. The BLS predicts that the job outlook for fashion designers in the apparel manufacturing industry will decrease by 31% over the period 2018 to 2028. The reason for the declining employment rate is that most apparel is manufactured overseas.

Continuing Education

After earning a bachelor's degree, fashion design students can further their abilities by entering a graduate program in fashion design. Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in fashion design are available; MFA programs may be more intensive. At the graduate level, students can expand their skills in fashion illustration and construction, focus on a specialty within the field, and participate in independent study. Furthermore, they can conduct research and study and predict trends. Students interested in teaching fashion design are qualified to work at the college level after completing a master's program.

Students interested in apparel and fashion design can complete a bachelor's degree program to enhance their skills and prepare for a career. Through coursework, internships, and a portfolio students can show employers their skills in the field.

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